Tomorrow I embark on a crazy experiment. Today was a trial run, and I must confess it wasn’t stellar.
That said, when something doesn’t go as smoothly as you like, it can be a terrific learning experience, as long as you keep my Golden Formula in mind:
Self-awareness + self-compassion = the key to everything good. (Click to tweet this.)
If I simply beat myself up for today’s “failure,” nothing would change for the better in my life, and in fact I’d probably quit my crazy experiment altogether. Instead, I used my “failure” as a way to notice what didn’t work and why. As a result, I learned a ton that I can use to do a better job going forward — how awesome is that?
I think you might also glean something valuable from the results of today’s trial, so I’m sharing them here.
First, Some Background.
In a move that honestly scares the stuffing out of me, I’ve committed publicly to write for two hours every morning (except Tuesdays and travel days) for the next six weeks. I’m running a program, Finishing Blitz, to help me keep this commitment, while at the same time helping fellow Finishing Blitzers to keep their own commitments and reach their own goals.
My underlying goal for these six weeks is to finally finish the first draft of my book. My overarching goal is to establish a consistent and sustainable daily writing practice.
Right now my practice is sporadic, at best, and given that approximately 92 1/2% of my work involves writing of some sort (newsletters, sales pages, blog posts, course content, launch content), a consistent practice would be perhaps the kindest, most compassionate gift I could give myself. (Click to tweet this.)
For now, I’m setting my work sessions for 9:00am to 11:00am. Starting tomorrow, anyone in Finishing Blitz can log or dial in to a private hotline promptly at 9:00am PT for a brief check in to share their goal for the two hours. Then we’ll head off to work, and report back at the end of the session.
(Side note: 9:00am-11:00am PT is my designated Finishing Blitz work session time, but it is by no means the required time for other Finishing Blitzers to work. Members can add additional work sessions to our Master Calendar at whatever times work for them, and/or use our private Facebook group to create additional pre-scheduled and spontaneous work sessions with other members. Or simply use our Facebook group or tracking doc to keep themselves accountable.)
This means I am on the hook to be at my computer, ready to write, by 9:00am every day.
I am not used to this kind of structure in my mornings. Honestly, I’m just a teeny bit terrified-out-of-my-skull that I won’t be able to pull it off.
However; at the same time, I have to remember that I do have a track record of past successes at “impossible” things. For the Great Bedtime Experiment in January of 2012, I managed to break the 2:00am bedtime pattern that was draining me dry, and succeeded in getting to bed by 11:00pm every night. And just this past month, I managed to do the impossible again and clutterbust the Studio of Doom, thanks to the Great ClutterBust.
Both times I was afraid I’d fail. Both times not only did I succeed, but my life transformed in ways I couldn’t have predicted.
That’s what got me thinking: If I could do the impossible by getting to bed earlier and clutterbusting my disaster area of a studio, perhaps I could use the same kind of structure to help me do the impossible in other areas of my life, like, say, writing my book…
So I designed Finishing Blitz as a way of building in external accountability, and surrounding myself with a community of champions, to help me get to “Done!”
So far, members have shared goals of all sorts, such as:
- Varnish the finished artworks which won’t actually be finished — and therefore can’t be shared with the world — until they’re varnished.
- Get my newsletter set up and going!
- Buy the camera and other photo equipment necessary to take good quality photos of artwork.
- Finish up the “UFOs” (UnFinished Objects) that taunt me daily.
- Register the fictitious business name I’ve been procrastinating on doing.
- Set a regular time daily that I’m working, when I’m NOT procrastinating or goofing off.
- Tackle the overwhelming list of to-do items that seem to be holding me back to the past.
- Dedicate a chunk of time in the morning for creative work, and a chunk of time in the afternoon for “drudgery” work that needs to get done.
(Want to join us? Click here to name your own price.)
I figured I ought to try out this 9:00am-at-the-computer-ready-to-go thing once or twice before May 1st… but somehow it never happened, so today was my last shot for a trial run. Here’s what happened.
The Trial Run
Because of a late visit to Ikea with Miracle Man last night to buy a subset of the new furniture I’ve picked out for Project Studio Makeover, I got to bed about an hour later than I wanted… which resulted in waking up about an hour later than I wanted: 7:54am.
My first thought was, “Shoot! I have just an hour to do my morning rituals and get to my computer!”
(Not so good.)
My second thought was, “Hmm… This means I’d better not even think about checking email or Facebook on my phone — I don’t have time!”
(Very, very good! This enforced 9:00am check-in has some distinct benefits!)
Instead, after a brief toilette, I meditated first thing, for 12 minutes while MM (who was also running late this morning) was in the shower.
On a normal day that would have left about 45 minutes for journaling or playing in the Creative Sandbox at my art table, and feeding both my cat, Nika, and myself. Not a generous amount of time for all that, but enough for a little of everything if I were brisk about it.
Today, though, isn’t normal, because we’re dog-sitting for my parents’ German Shepherd, Chloe, this week. Oops… Her breakfast routine is a lot more complicated than Nika’s, and adds several minutes to the mix.
Still, surely I had time for a bit of journaling, I thought, so I wrote til 8:35, which left me a crisp 25 minutes to feed the critters and myself.
I should just say that it probably wasn’t the best decision to cook up pesto quesadillas, when a bowl of muesli would have taken a fraction of the time, but yes, that’s what I did.
All of which meant that when I raced up the stairs to boot up my computer and log into the private hotline/conference room, it was with a plate of half-finished breakfast in my hand, and the first half had been bolted down while standing at the counter. Not ideal…
I did make it into the hotline/conference room exactly at 9:00am, but it took me about ten minutes after that to finish breakfast and actually be ready to start writing.
So yeah, not ideal, but I learned a ton of great stuff! In particular, I learned:
- Having a deadline to get to work really helps keep me on track, and makes me less susceptible to the temptation to fall into the email and internet rat hole!
- I need to allow a lot more than 25 minutes if I’m going to cook breakfast, rather than simply pouring it into a bowl. Say 40-45 minutes, minimum.
- If I have less than 40 minutes, a no-cook, super-quick breakfast is essential!
- Getting up earlier would be better, so getting back on an earlier bedtime schedule (yes, I confess I’ve fallen off the wagon with that) would really, really help me achieve my 9:00am start goal.
I also learned that this “write for two hours” thing, before checking email, before even glancing at Facebook, is brilliant! I wrote and edited almost this entire blog post during that time!
So my trial run might have been stellar in terms of timing, but in terms of what I accomplished with it and learned from it, it was a massive success! If I can stick to this write-for-two-hours-in-the-morning for the duration, I think this is going to be a really awesome six weeks.
Wheeee! Here we go!
If you want to join in for any part of Finishing Blitz, you can do so at the price you decide. Participate for one week, all six weeks, or any portion you wish. You may just accomplish the impossible, and you’ll make some great new friends in the process.
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!